Bowser in the Dark World is the first of the three Bowser areas in Super Mario 64 and Super Mario 64 DS. It is a puzzle-like world with many traps and enemies. The trapdoor entrance is behind the Big Star Door in the mezzanine of the main floor, which requires 8 Stars (12 in the DS version) to enter.
The first section of the level is pretty straight forward. Once the area starts, Mario is warped at the beginning of the area with a ? Block, which contains the Metal Box at the start followed by a flamethrower. There are also Red Coins that are able to be collected, but the Switch Palace has to be activated. There are many 1-Up Mushrooms that make an appearance in the area. Amps can be seen when Mario explores deeper into the area, along with two rocking platforms acting as seesaws. There is then a checkered slope. The ! Switch turns the checkered slope into a checkered staircase.
When Mario climbs up higher, there are tips and instructions given to Mario by Princess Peach to tell him how Bowser should be defeated. The sign is next to the Warp Pipe leading to the battle with Bowser.
Once Mario enters the pipe, Bowser will show up saying that Princess Toadstool isn't in the Dark World. Bowser will attack using his trademark Fire Breath in stream which can burn Mario. He can also jump up and shake the ground if Mario is too far away, stunning Mario if he is not in the air. The battle's primary purpose needs for Mario to grasp Bowser's tail and swing him around into a spiky orb only once into one of the four mines available (eight in Super Mario 64 DS) which explodes by contact. Upon doing so, he will admit defeat and disappear, leaving Mario with the key to the castle's basement. Once Bowser is defeated, the Bowser Key to the basement area is obtained.
In the DS version, the story's dialogue has changed slightly as Mario, Luigi, and Wario are kidnapped; this means that Yoshi must battle and defeat Goomboss when he has a total of eight Stars to access the Goomboss Battle area. When Yoshi defeats Goomboss, he gets the Mario Key which is necessary to unlock Mario, as Mario is the only character with access through the Star Doors. Twelve starts have to be collected first, though.
Two Power Stars can be collected in this course, with one being exclusive to the DS version.
Star 1: 8 Red Coins
Eight Power Stars (twelve in the Nintendo DS version), are required for Mario to enter the area. Upon entering the room, there is a portrait of Princess Peach seen on the far wall. If gone closer, it turns into Bowser and a trap door will open in the ground, sending the player into the level. The painting is not able to be reached, as there is an invisible wall between the player and the painting.
Eight Red Coins can be found throughout this level, many of which are difficult to obtain due to the fact that there are many gaps and narrow bridges in the course. The locations of the Red Coins are as follows:
- Two on top of Blocks which appears upon activation of a Purple Switch. (In the DS remake, one of the Coins is moved to near the starting platform.)
- Next to the third crystal in the second section.
- Next to the stone cube, obtained when the Yellow Block protrudes out the side.
- In the far left corner of where two platforms circle each other.
- Next to the pin on an octagonal platform to the left of the start of the third section.
- Behind the second tilting platform.
- Above the far left platform which overhangs the tilting platforms.
Upon collecting them all, the Power Star will appear near the Warp Pipe that leads to Bowser.
Star 2: Switch Star (DS only)
In Super Mario 64 DS, a Star Switch is placed next to the Warp Pipe leading to Bowser. Upon pressing it, the Power Star will appear in a Star Sphere on one of the ledges below. The player has to go down the stairs and across the platforms above the tilting ones to reach the Power Star before the timer runs out.
The stage music is the same as in Bowser in the Fire Sea and Bowser in the Sky, with "Koopa's Road" as the name of the track being used for the course (but not while fighting Bowser). This music is reused for the Bowser stages in Super Mario Galaxy and its sequel. A remixed version is also available as a track that can be played during events in the DS and Wii versions of Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games and the 3DS and Wii versions of Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
- Fire Dispensers
- If the player manages to get 100 Coins (via Bowser's flames), another Power Star will not appear.